Box Score Kearney, Neb. – Five players scored in double figures and the Nebraska Kearney used a big second half to pull away from Southwest Baptist, 90-74, Monday night at the Health & Sports Center. This was an MIAA Tournament first round game. The sixth-seeded Lopers improve to 18-9 and will face third-seed Missouri Southern State (18-10) Thursday night in Kansas City at approximately 8:15 p.m. In the only meeting between the two this winter, UNK beat MSSU by a 93-73 score back on December 4th in the H & S Center
. Last March, the Lions ended the Lopers season in K.C., 87-79. Ranked 13th out of 14 schools in the MIAA in three point percentage (33.2%), the 11th-seeded Bearcats bucked the odds by knocking down their first six long range shots. Three of the bombs were from senior guard Derrick Stewart as SBU built a 24-18 nine minutes in. However, the ‘Cats (11-18) would go 3 of 15 from behind the arc the rest of the way. Shooting 57.4% (31 of 54) on the night, including 9 of 18 from the three point line, UNK slowly chipped away at the deficit, tying things up at 37 on a tip in from junior Connor Beranek (Ravenna) right before the halftime buzzer. The Lopers never trailed in the second half, a 20-minute span in which it scored 53 points. Kearney moved ahead 57-46 on a layup from freshman forward Trey Lansman (Harlan, Ia.) at the 10:00 mark but SBU hung around for a bit longer
. Finally, UNK extended its lead to 15 points after Beranek blocked a three and then blocked a seemingly easy fast break layup for SBU that got the crowd of 1,500 to go crazy. The second block led to two free throws from junior Ethan Brozek (Norfolk Catholic H.S.) and was part of an 8-2 run. “We’re really happy to get that trip to Kansas City. After the disappointing performance we had on Saturday, we got ourselves back into a good spot,” said UNK co-head coach Tom Kropp. The 2015 MIAA Player of the Year, Beranek scored a game-high 26 points, grabbed nine rebounds (six defensive), handed out four assists, blocked four shots and had two of UNK’s three steals. To reach his point total, he was 11 of 15 from the field and 4 of 4 at the line.
The Lopers were 19 of 20 at the line as a team to shoot a season-best 95.0%. “The MIAA is one of the best Division II leagues in the country and is speaks volumes that both Connor and Ethan were voted to the first-team,” said Kropp. Next, Brozek had 15 points, four boards and three assists with York freshman Ty Danielson coming off the bench and going 4 of 7 from downtown to tally 14, three shy of his season-best effort. Finally, Lansman got close to his first double double (16 points & eight rebounds) with Minnesota freshman guard Isaiah McKay providing 13 points, two assists and two boards. “Looking back at the calendar, we’ve been on the road for 17 out of 32 days since the end of January,” said Kropp. “We’ll take tomorrow (Tuesday) off and then get ready because we want to go to Kansas City and be involved in more than one game.”